Accolades

Associate Dean Minking Chyu Presented With Distinguished Service Professor Medallion

University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher and Provost Patricia E. Beeson recently presented the Swanson School of Engineering's Minking Chyu with a medallion recognizing his appointment as Distinguished Service Professor. The presentation was held during a virtual board meeting between representatives at Pitt and Sichuan University in December. Chyu is currently the Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Associate Dean of International Initiatives, and the inaugural Dean of the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute in China. Read more about the award and Chyu's work here.

Mervat Abdelhak Named to Information Management Organization Board of Directors

Mervat Abdelhak, department chair and associate professor of Health Information Management and Health Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, was recently named to the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education’s board of directors.

The commission is the accrediting body for health information management education programs.

Abdelhak is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on health information practice issues and education. She is widely published with more than 40 publications in top health information management and health informatics journals including the textbook, “Health Information: Management of a Strategic Resource,” now in its fifth edition.

Mervat Abdelhak Named to Information Management Organization Board of Directors

Mervat Abdelhak, department chair and associate professor of Health Information Management and Health Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, was recently named to the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education’s board of directors.

The commission is the accrediting body for health information management education programs.

Abdelhak is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on health information practice issues and education. She is widely published with more than 40 publications in top health information management and health informatics journals including the textbook, “Health Information: Management of a Strategic Resource,” now in its fifth edition.

Pitt Computer Engineers Win Best Paper Award at International Big Data Conference

A team of computer engineering and bioengineering researchers from the University of Pittsburgh won the Best Paper Award at the 3rd International Conference on Machine Learning, Optimization & Big Data (MOD 2017). The paper titled, “Recipes for Translating Big Data Machine Reading to Executable Cellular Signaling Models,” describes how automated machine reading can be used to pore over volumes of research and use that information to create models for understanding biological processes.

“These models are used to conduct and explain hundreds of thousands of simulated experiments, which would be impractical if done with biological material in the lab,” said Natasa Miskov-Zivanov, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “Our paper won the Best Paper Award because the methods it presents are critical to automating the process of model generation from vast amounts of literature without human intervention.” 

Read more about the research at the Swanson School of Engineering's website.

Pitt Computer Engineers Win Best Paper Award at International Big Data Conference

A team of computer engineering and bioengineering researchers from the University of Pittsburgh won the Best Paper Award at the 3rd International Conference on Machine Learning, Optimization & Big Data (MOD 2017). The paper titled, “Recipes for Translating Big Data Machine Reading to Executable Cellular Signaling Models,” describes how automated machine reading can be used to pore over volumes of research and use that information to create models for understanding biological processes.

“These models are used to conduct and explain hundreds of thousands of simulated experiments, which would be impractical if done with biological material in the lab,” said Natasa Miskov-Zivanov, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “Our paper won the Best Paper Award because the methods it presents are critical to automating the process of model generation from vast amounts of literature without human intervention.” 

Read more about the research at the Swanson School of Engineering's website.

University of Pittsburgh Press Book Receives Flutter of Praise

“Butterflies of Pennsylvania: A Field Guide” — published by the University of Pittsburgh Press — was recognized with a 2017 National Outdoor Book Award in the Nature Guidebooks category. Authored by James L. Monroe and David M. Wright, the book features more than 900 color photographs of all of the recorded butterfly species in Pennsylvania. Monroe is a research associate at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity in Gainesville, Florida, and professor emeritus of physics at Penn State Beaver. Chairman of patient safety and quality control at Abington – Lansdale Hospital in Pennsylvania, Wright is an anatomical and clinical pathologist who has published extensively on the butterflies of Pennsylvania and neighboring states.

University of Pittsburgh Press Book Receives Flutter of Praise

“Butterflies of Pennsylvania: A Field Guide” — published by the University of Pittsburgh Press — was recognized with a 2017 National Outdoor Book Award in the Nature Guidebooks category. Authored by James L. Monroe and David M. Wright, the book features more than 900 color photographs of all of the recorded butterfly species in Pennsylvania. Monroe is a research associate at the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity in Gainesville, Florida, and professor emeritus of physics at Penn State Beaver. Chairman of patient safety and quality control at Abington – Lansdale Hospital in Pennsylvania, Wright is an anatomical and clinical pathologist who has published extensively on the butterflies of Pennsylvania and neighboring states.

Diane Litman Elected Association for Computational Linguistics Fellow

Diane Litman — director of the Intelligent Systems Program, a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science within the School of Computing and Information and a senior scientist in the Learning Research and Development Center—has been elected one of six new Association for Computational Linguistics Fellows for 2017.

The fellows program recognizes association members whose contributions to the field have been most extraordinary in terms of scientific and technical excellence, service to the association and the community and/or educational or outreach activities with broader impact.

Litman has been selected for her key contributions to dialog research, especially the application of reinforcement learning and multimodal analysis to tutoring dialog. The Association for Computational Linguistics began in 1968 and has since promoted innovative research in computational linguistics, the study of language from a computational perspective. Researchers such as Litman who are involved in this field are interested in providing computational models of various kinds of linguistic phenomena, and their accomplishments are incorporated into many working systems today, including speech recognition systems, digital voice assistants and text editors. 

Diane Litman Elected Association for Computational Linguistics Fellow

Diane Litman — director of the Intelligent Systems Program, a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science within the School of Computing and Information and a senior scientist in the Learning Research and Development Center—has been elected one of six new Association for Computational Linguistics Fellows for 2017.

The fellows program recognizes association members whose contributions to the field have been most extraordinary in terms of scientific and technical excellence, service to the association and the community and/or educational or outreach activities with broader impact.

Litman has been selected for her key contributions to dialog research, especially the application of reinforcement learning and multimodal analysis to tutoring dialog. The Association for Computational Linguistics began in 1968 and has since promoted innovative research in computational linguistics, the study of language from a computational perspective. Researchers such as Litman who are involved in this field are interested in providing computational models of various kinds of linguistic phenomena, and their accomplishments are incorporated into many working systems today, including speech recognition systems, digital voice assistants and text editors. 

Swanson School Dean to Receive Distinguished Service Award

Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering and Distinguished Service Professor of Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, will be honored by the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers—Pittsburgh Chapter with its Distinguished Service Award.

Holder will be recognized at an event in February for his contributions to the engineering profession and his legacy in engineering education. He came to the University in 1979 and served as chair of chemical engineering from 1987-95 and became dean of engineering in 1996.

“The University of Pittsburgh’s engineering program is one of the oldest in the U.S., and Dean Holder has helped to establish its national and international reputation for excellence,” said Scott Sukits, president of the society's Pittsburgh chapter. 

McGowan Institute Honored for 25 Years of Accomplishments

The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine was given a citation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania commemorating the institute's quarter-century existence and a 2017 Innovation Award from the Pittsburgh Business Times recognizing the accomplishments of the institute’s faculty.

The institute, directed by William Wagner, has been committed to its mission to develop technologies that address tissue and organ insufficiency since 1992 with the aid of over 240 affiliated University of Pittsburgh faculty members from 31 academic departments.

The institute celebrated its 25th anniversary in November.

H. Richard Milner IV Named to RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings

H. Richard Milner IV has been recognized within Education Week’s 2018 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings.

Milner is ranked 70th in the national list, which identifies the nation’s top 200 university-based scholars who are doing the most to shape educational practice and policy. Milner is the sole Pitt faculty member listed, and he is the only scholar named from an educational institution in Western Pennsylvania.

At Pitt, Milner conducts in-depth research on the impact race and poverty plays on educational access. He is considered a national authority on the barriers to educational opportunities for traditionally underrepresented communities.

A Pitt faculty member since 2013, Milner is the Helen Faison Endowed Chair of Urban Education and the director of the Center for Urban Education, both within the University’s School of Education. Additionally, Milner also holds secondary appointments in Pitt’s School of Social Work, as well as the departments of Africana Studies and Sociology. 

Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Faculty Members Honored for Early Career Research

Two junior faculty members in the Swanson School of Engineering were among a class of 58 early career researchers recognized for their nascent research in energy storage.

James McKone  and Christopher Wilmer, both assistant professors of chemical and petroleum engineering, along with their peers were honored as new Fellows at the first Scialog: Advanced Energy Storage meeting in Tucson, Arizona, in November, hosted by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

According to Scialog, these rising stars participated in intensive discussions aimed at developing proposals for seed funding of transformative energy storage systems and novel research ideas to improve efficiencies in advanced batteries, supercapacitors and related systems.

Physical Therapy Professors Win State Association Awards

Two University of Pittsburgh faculty members from the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences were recognized with awards from the Pennsylvania Physical Therapy Association.

Physical therapy assistant professor David Wert received the association’s Neurological Special Interest Group’s Award of Excellence. The award honors a member of the physical therapy association who has made a lasting contribution to the state of Pennsylvania in the field of neurology.

Vice dean and physical therapy associate professor Debora Miller received the Carlin-Michels Achievement Award, which recognizes her numerous contributions and accomplishments as a clinician and educator.

David Brienza Awarded $2.6 Million From the National Institutes of Health to Study Bed Sore Prevention

David Brienza, associate dean of research at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences has been awarded a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study which hospital-bed technologies work best to prevent and treat bed sores — pressure wounds that can lead to serious infections and death. The grant will be used for a randomized study of 800 patients at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Montefiore over the next three years to determine whether special mattresses that wick away moisture and circulate air under the patient are effective at preventing pressure injuries.

Education's Thomas Akiva Awarded $300,000 From National Science Foundation

Thomas Akiva, an assistant professor in the School of Education, has been awarded a grant of nearly $300,000 from the National Science Foundation. The funding supports his efforts to study and enhance makerspaces — specifically, areas for children to create, build and explore with various tools and materials — within Pittsburgh-area libraries. Through the project, Akiva hopes to develop new ways support adults who work with youth in program settings.

A faculty member at Pitt since 2012, Akiva focuses his research on understanding and improving out-of-school learning programs by examining instructor practices, staff professional development and cross-program networks.

University Recognized for Its Commitment to an LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Environment

Campus Pride, a nonprofit organization that identifies LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities, has awarded the University of Pittsburgh a Campus Pride Index score of 4.5 out of 5 stars. “The University is very excited about this recognition. It is a public affirmation of the University-wide efforts to make the University an inclusive educational and employment environment for all, including for our very important LGBTQIA+ community members,” said Pam Connelly, Pitt’s vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. “We will use it as motivation to continually grow and improve.”

The score is based on policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing and residence life, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts. Among the many factors that contributed to Pitt’s score were student organizations, such as the Rainbow Alliance; the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Program; and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which led the recognition effort.

4 Researchers Receive New Initiatives Grants From Charles E. Kaufman Foundation

The Pittsburgh Foundation’s Charles E. Kaufman Foundation has named Tia-Lynn Ashman and James Pipas as recipients of one of its New Initiatives grants for their project “Pollen as the next viral frontier: Unrecognized threat to food security and native biodiversity.” Ashman is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolution, and Pipas is the Herbert W. and Grace Boyer Chair in Molecular Biology; both are faculty members in Pitt’s Department of Biological Sciences. With their $300,000 grant payable over two years, Ashman and Pipas will unearth how pollen can transmit viruses between plants. Their research could have implications for the nation's food supply.

Michael Hatridge and Roger Mong’s proposed research on “Protecting quantum wires for quantum computing” was also recognized with a $300,000 New Initiatives grant, from the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation. Hatridge and Mong are assistant professors of condensed matter physics in Pitt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. Hatridge and Mong hope that their research will help to make a real quantum computer feasible; a quantum computer would process information at a rate even faster than that of a supercomputer.

 

Pitt Cyber Resident Scholar Named Influential Figure in National Security

Kiersten E. Todt, resident scholar at the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security, has been designated one of 2017’s Most Influential People in Security by Security Magazine. The annual honor recognizes top security executives and leaders who are positively impacting their industry and broader security landscape.

At Pitt Cyber, Todt is a part of the senior leadership team, playing an integral role in bringing the University to the forefront of national cybersecurity policy development. Before coming to Pitt, Todt headed up the national cybersecurity commission, which helped carry out then-President Barack Obama’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan. 

Alison Slinskey Legg Awarded NSF Grant to Steer Underrepresented Groups Toward STEM Education

Alison Slinskey Legg, a senior lecturer in Pitt’s School of Biological Sciences, and 10 collaborating investigators have been approved for $300,000 in funding through the National Science Foundation's INCLUDES Program to encourage individuals from underrepresented groups to pursue STEM education and careers. Legg and partners from five Pitt schools will launch a pilot that recruits high school students for STEM precollegiate programs, develops a metric to evaluate those programs, credentials precollege STEM programs based on the metric and introduces a badging system to credit student participants.

Legg’s collaborators on the project are Alaine Allen, David Boone, Jennifer Iriti, Lori Ann Delale-O’Connor, Rebecca Gonda, Mackenzie Ball, Anne Sekula, Kellie Kane, Kashif Henderson and Lina Dostilio. Read more about the project at NSF's site.